Revolutionary Art from Pelican Bay S.H.U.
PO Box 4186
San Jose, CA 95150
2017, 214 pgs., soft cover, $50
Aztlán Realism is over 200 pages of revolutionary [email protected] artwork, straight from the hole. The pages are in black and white, and select pieces are shown in color in the front and back. It is easy to get lost in the pages of this book, imagining a different world, and clearly envisioning what it will be like to fight to get there.
The line in the artwork is on point. Lumpen (prisoners and gangsters) and peasants are shown working in unity to smash capitalism and national oppression. The Third Worldist line is prominent throughout: Aztlán is depicted in unity with oppressed nations globally, against Amerikkka and imperialism in general.
There is very strong revolutionary feminism in Aztlán Realism. Wimmin are shown on the front lines, and as the backbone, of [email protected] liberation. While the drawings containing wimmin in a revolutionary context far outnumber the scantily-clad and coy-faced Chicanas, we would choose to omit the sexy drawings altogether if we had the option. They're a direct reflection of the gendered culture we currently live in, and glorification of brown rather than white wimmin should not require objectification of bodies.
The only other thing we would change about this book would be to see the whole book printed in color. Villarreal's use of color adds vibrancy to the artwork which is very compelling.
We strongly recommend getting your hands on this book, or just reaching out to Aztlán Press to show some love. Aztlán Press aims to publish the works of imprisoned [email protected] writers, and we look forward to watching them develop over the years to come.
The challenges I faced upon release was money and housing. These two were primarily the most significant factors. I have a big family, so one may think that at least temporary housing wouldn't be a factor. Yet for me, and maybe for many others, it is. There's a family member that I have that loves me dearly, I believe, but just won't (or just can't) allow me to live with them, becuz of either past run-ins or past lifestyle choices I've made.
I mean let's face it — no matter what changes I've made recently (i.e. politically, morally), most of my family members just don't trust me to live with them or in their homes for more than a few days before they feel it's time for me to go. And it's not becuz, I feel, they believe I'm difficult to deal with, but becuz their not 100% faithful that I'll come thru on moral promises.
Then I find myself reaching out to parole to be placed in a program for parolees, but with programs comes parole restrictions. The only problem with this is the parolee begins to feel like he's been sent back to prison again. Upon arriving at the program, due to the CDCR regulations that most CDCR parolee programs operate under, this gives anyone thoughts of wanting to leave the program prematurely before securing a job or housing.
And even if one completes the program and/or secures job or housing or both, then there's the cost of living and spousal-family problems that comes into play. It did for me. These are some of the factors that makes it difficult for comrades to stay connected with our MIM homebase and involved in our political work.
There are also other factors that comes into play in addition to the above: Some of the biggest challenges are past gang ties and drugs. For me these are the most crucial and can greatly affect effective communication with the comrades.
I personally understand that communication is vital and efforts needs to be directed at communication, becuz had I stayed connected immediately upon release, my comrades could've walked me thru my obstacles by instruction. Without instruction, comrades being release may get lost. And without communication there can be no instruction.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer poses an important question, "What can MIM(Prisons) do to support our released comrades while they get their lives set up?" If you're reading this newsletter, you probably have already read our Release Letter and Release Challenges letters, both focused on the details of our Re-Lease on Live Program. In those letters we lay out the need for weekly communication with MIM(Prisons).
We advise that comrades write to us via snail mail at first, so we can set up secure communication lines. We can set up phone appointments and try to help you get e-mail running on a secure machine. Like our prisoner organizing, if we can't get on e-mail or phone, we are happy to support via snail mail indefinitely.
Our question to this writer, and everyone in a similar situation, is whether this system we've set up is viable. The writer above talks about the need for communication, instruction, support, between eirself and MIM(Prisons). With our current Re-Lease on Life structure, are we set up to be successful at this? What do we need to modify about it to be successful?
There are certain things that I have zero toleration for. But I still try to be an overall understanding and wise guy, especially towards those individuals who are younger than I, and who face/faced similar or identical struggles. I have MIM(Prisons) to thank for helping me to acquire knowledge and information, which I have used to overcome my lifelong resentment and fear of "sexual predators" and "sex offenders" (SOs).
I have faced sexual abuse as a young child, and throughout various points of my life, and have been forced to undergo all the intricate and complex issues ramifying from such things. Initially, these same SOs were the main individuals that I struggled against, held intense hatred for, and who I held zero toleration for and towards, without any question or afterthought involved into any types of factual, evidential or considerational circumstances of their cases/charges, etc. I agree entirely with the ULK 55 articles concerning "unity with sex offenders" and unifying with sex offenders. I have developed brand new beliefs about such things thanks to MIM(Prisons)'s ULKs.
I am in prison for selling drugs and armed robbery; but since I've been incarcerated I have stopped all stealing/thievery and I don't mess with any drugs. So I believe that even if a sex offender is guilty of their crimes, I think that it's actually possible for changes in these individuals to manifest, with sufficient circumstances. I did not believe that before reading ULK 55 and I loved the insight in this same issue addressing the issue involved with not being able to go off the state's/fed's jacketing alone.
For one thing, those same fed/state officials are often involved in fraudulent/fabricated bullshit/schemes, lying, conspiracies, etc. So their word alone is never to be trusted or relied upon. Their essential nature is to assume false masquerades undercover, utilize deceit/manipulation tactics, cheat, lie, rob, etc., so that they can win. During my lifetime they've hit me personally with all of those tricks, plus some, so I know firsthand how it goes. They're often all about setting people up and bending their own rules to get ahead, or to win, and so forth. There's no end to the madness.
Even so much as simple socializing with SOs has been alien to me, but I'm taking steps in the direction of overcoming old habits involved with interacting with these types of prisoners. Only through MIM(Prisons) has this been possible for me. The only catch is that I don't wish to live in a cell with one of these individuals; but I think that I could try to do so under certain circumstances. My main concern (if and when all of my previous inhibitions were/are done away with) is still present, which involves me being targeted by prisoners/staff for such an interaction with SOs. I'm not saying that I fear any adversity. They can't do anything to me that hasn't already been done to me, other than killing me. But, with the way that things already stand, as for my work and projects, I already face a substantial amount of retaliation and opposition coming from every possible angle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is difficult for all of us to overcome our past and look at things objectively when we have intense subjective experiences that cloud our judgment. We know that sexual abuse is particularly traumatic and has a very strong impact on most people's perceptions. So it is no small thing that this comrade is working to overcome subjective fears and instead evaluate people objectively when they have been labeled as sex offenders.
We agree wholeheartedly with this comrade's analysis that people can change. It's not an easy process, but even those convicted of anti-people crimes that they really did commit can wake up to their mistakes, educate themselves in revolutionary politics, and take a stand on the side of the oppressed. It takes courage to admit to one's errors, as it isn't easy to overcome ego. But this is part of the process of criticism and self-criticism that is so vital to any revolutionary movement. We applaud this comrade for setting an example of pushing our struggle even further, after ey had already given up eir own anti-people and self-destructive acts.
When it comes to guns and gun violence, Amerikkka truly is #1. According to The Guardian: "No other developed nation comes close to the rate of gun violence in America. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult." Further, there is a mass shooting nine out of every ten days in this country. That's 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days.(1) These statistics define mass shootings as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter. That's a broader definition than is used by the government and many other statisticians. But it's illustrative of the tremendous gun violence happening in the United $tates.
Recent mass shootings, including the Las Vegas country music festival massacre, the shooting in a Southerland, Texas Baptist church, and the Orlando Pulse nightclub killings have led to a lot of discussion about gun violence in the United $tates. While there is a long history of mass shootings in this country, various analyses confirm that incidents are on the rise.(2)
In reality mass shootings are just a small part of gun deaths in the United $tates. Over 400 thousand people died from gun violence between 2001 and 2013, the majority (over 200,000) were suicides. Mass shootings only made up about 3% of the homicides in 2017 so far.(3) But there is little discussion of all the other gun-related deaths.
Gun violence in general doesn't bother most Amerikans. It certainly doesn't make it into everyday conversation. The mass shootings are unique in that they appear random and unpredictable. They introduce an element of fear into everyday life for Amerikans who like to think their lives are charmed and protected by citizenship. Especially white Amerikans. And this is a uniquely white phenomenon. The vast majority of mass shootings in public places (71%) between 1982 and 2012 were perpetuated by white men.(2) That's quite a disproportionate representation as "non-Hispanic" white men make up about 1/3 of the general population.
An epidemic of mental illness?
When perpetrated by white people, politicians bend over backwards to explain that the shooter was mentally ill. Mental illness is a convenient cover story to dismiss all of these incidents as the fault of the individual. Something that couldn't have been prevented. And this mental illness is easy to "prove," since we generally define mental health to include not indiscriminately murdering people.
Rather that attribute all this violence to individual mental illness, communists look at society and social causes. If we believe that all these folks are mentally ill, shouldn't we be concerned that Amerikans are suffering from an epidemic of mental illness unseen in other nations? Even by the capitalists' own psychology argument about fault, there must be something systematically wrong in this country.
An analysis that looks beyond the individual will quickly conclude that there is something wrong with Amerikan society that it's producing all of these mass killers. But it's not that Amerika just has an over-abundance of crazy people who like to go on shooting sprees. These mass killings are a direct result of Amerikan capitalism, its culture, and its gun-mongering. People who are floundering for a purpose in their lives latch on to this culture.
Capitalism lacks the ability to provide most people with a meaningful purpose in life. The individualist focus of capitalism teaches Amerikans that they should make money, and then spend that money to enjoy life. Also maybe throw in some meaningless sex for fun. But this doesn't lead to a strong sense of purpose or self-worth. Especially for those who don't succeed at the money-making, or at the sex. So we end up with lots of people depressed, and without a way to address what is wrong with their lives. This is just one of many contradictions of capitalism. Even those benefiting financially from the system can end up feeling purposeless and depressed.
It should not be lost on readers of ULK that all this talk about mass shootings is explained away by mental illness but any individual of Arab descent who carries out an act of violence is labeled a terrorist. White men are not considered terrorists, they're just ill. Muslims (and non-Muslims who come from a predominantly Muslim region) resisting imperialist domination and violence are "terrorists."
Capitalism = violence
Another contradiction for capitalism is the promotion of violence. The imperialists raise up war and the killing of "enemies" as a heroic act. This is necessary because war for the imperialists is a critical part of conquering the land and people who supply natural resources and labor to create capitalist profits. And war is also important to keeping those people oppressed when they try to rise up and resist.
Capitalist culture glorifies this war and killing. The Vietnam War was the last truly messy war from the perspective of Amerikans. The draft forced men into the army who didn't want to go fight, and most people knew someone who died or was injured. That war was hard to glorify, especially when it involved massacring peasants who just wanted to control their land and their lives. But now, with an all-volunteer army, capitalism has grown more and more cavalier with its glorification of war. The imperialists have also worked hard at marketing these wars, stressing the danger (drugs, terrorism, or whatever is the latest war du jour) that threatens the Amerikan way of life.
With this glorification of war comes a cultural onslaught of violence. We have movies about war, and video games about war, and serialized TV shows about the government engaged in geo-political war games (not to mention cop shows). Violence is as Amerikan as apple pie. And guns are just the current device used in that violence.
All these Amerikan gun-related deaths reveal the moribund nature of capitalism. It can't even keep control of its own privileged citizens. This is not a stable system. There are some strong reasons why even privileged Amerikans should oppose capitalism.
What about gun control?
In the short term, restricting access to guns by Amerikans would probably lead to a reduction in random shooting events. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership levels in a state, there was a corresponding 0.9 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate.(4)
But stricter laws like this always lead to greater restrictions on oppressed people and political activists first and foremost. So we should never suggest the government should increase its powers at the expense of the freedom of the people. Gun control laws were used against groups like the Black Panther Party, who carried guns in self-defense in response to police indiscriminately harassing and killing Black people. Theirs was a righteous protest against a murderous police force. And they acted within the law, carrying guns for protection. So the government, backed by white organizations like the National Rifle Association, changed the law, specifically so that the BPP could not display their guns in public. This display of guns by New Afrikan revolutionaries was terrifying to white Amerika. It's easy for Amerika to enact more restrictive gun control laws when threatened by oppressed nations.
What will stop the violence?
Until we put an end to the capitalist system that encourages violence we're not going to see an end to random gun violence in the United $tates. This is one example of the benefit people in imperialist countries will get from our revolutionary project. They will no longer be allowed to live high off the exploitation of Third World peoples, but they won't have to exist in a culture that promotes senseless violence.
Unfortunately, there isn't a magic bullet. Even after capitalism is overthrown by a communist party representing the oppressed and exploited, the capitalist culture won't just disappear overnight. Maoists in China determined that a series of cultural revolutions would be necessary as a part of the transition from socialism to communism. Those cultural revolutions will fight against the ills so ingrained in us from capitalist culture. They will mobilize people to create new culture that serves the interests of the people. And over time, possibly over several generations, we will get rid of the rotten old culture of individualism, decadence and violence.
Marx & Engels On Colonies, Industrial Monopoly, & The Working Class Movement
originally compiled by the Communist Working Circle, 1972
with a new introduction by Zak Cope & Torkil Lauesen
Available for $10 + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
This book is a reprint of a 1972 study pack by the Communist Working Circle, which contains quotes from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels on the question of the split between workers in the imperialist countries and the colonized nations. The book opens with a foreword by the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement and an extensive introduction by Zak Cope & Torkil Lauesen explaining transfer of wealth from colonies to Britain.
The introduction is really the heart of the small book. It takes the outline laid out by the Marx and Engels quotes and fills it out with a detailed historical treatment of the subject. The authors focus on the periods contemporary to and discussed by Marx and Engels. And they make some important conclusions, including that England was dominated by the labor aristocracy by the 1850s. This is a key point, when all too often the question of the labor aristocracy is treated as an open debate over
150 years later.
One topic that Marx and Engels touch on in many of the selections is England's relationship to Ireland. This was a factor for Marx in eir understanding of the English workers growing allegiance to capitalism. While we often treat settler nations like Amerika and Australia as distinct phenomenon, what we gather from Marx and Engels's descriptions is that the attitudes of the English were/are not very different. The English built a very similar consciousness in relation to Ireland, India and countless other colonized peoples.
MIM(Prisons) recommends this book as part of the still-growing cannon on this important topic. While we consider Zak Cope's Divided World, Divided Class a must-read, this may be a more digestible piece to start with for those shy about thick economic texts. This book is available to prisoners for $6 or work trade from MIM Distributors, and we plan to conduct a study group on it in the near future.
Peace: I believe in order to have true peace among prisoners we must first war with ourselves and conquer the oppressor's mentality that divides us; unify for a common cause and subdue the petty issues that divide us.
Unity: We must come together and collectively make sound decisions and be willing to do anything to be about our goals; we need education, skills, jobs, housing upon leaving jails; we must realize that the beasts will never rehabilitate us. It's counter-productive to our cause. United we must stand or continue to fall one by one.
Growth: We must stop degrading and persecuting our fellow convicts; snitch, sex offender, thugs, etc. is all victim of a system that is designed to lock us up and throw away the keys; it's not justices, it's just us, poor, uneducated, addicts or dawgs trying to eat from the master's table.
Internationalism: All oppressed people around the globe must unite and struggle for the same cause, strive to liberate and eradicate any and all who abuse any people for race, color, status, etc. Earth has too much wealth for any human being to go hungry or without housing or medication and treatment; we must fight within and outside the system to make it better; destroy in order to build.
Independence: We must unite and unite our community; vote and become police officer, judges, etc. Enough of singing "we shall overcome," and lighting candles and talking; the youth should stop waiting for a leader and strive to become one, that way the system can't kill the head to stop the body.
This is a brief description of United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) motto and what it means to us. We don't have much, very little or no money. We are rich in spirit and strive to be soldiers of united front. We call ourselves soldier of war, for it's a daily battle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades in Connecticut have taken up organizing in that state and we're very happy to be working with them. We want to expand on the point of Independence. We agree that we need the oppressed to become leaders, and ultimately this will include playing all the important roles in society. However, getting oppressed into positions in the police force and elsewhere in the criminal injustice system today won't change anything. It will just put a few more dark faces on a white system of national oppression. True independence isn't putting a few formerly-oppressed people in positions to serve the system. True independence is taking over the system so that the oppressed are running it in the interests of the oppressed. "Destroy in order to build," as this comrade says. At that time the police and judges will serve the people and not the oppressors, and we will fill those roles with people from the oppressed community.
"We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already 'united' — in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know 'we need unity' — but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence.
"We cannot wish peace into reality when conditions do not allow for it. When people's needs aren't met, there can be no peace. Despite its vast wealth, the system of imperialism chooses profit over meeting humyn needs for the world's majority. Even here in the richest country in the world there are groups that suffer from the drive for profit. We must build independent institutions to combat the problems plaguing the oppressed populations. This is our unity in action.
"We acknowledge that the greater the unity politically and ideologically, the greater our movement becomes in combating national oppression, class oppression, racism and gender oppression. Those who recognize this reality have come together to sign these principles for a united front to demonstrate our agreement on these issues. We are the voiceless and we have a right and a duty to be heard."
The UFPP sets out five principles: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism and Independence. If you have a group interested in joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons, send us your organization's name and a statement of unity explaining what the united front principles mean to your organization. And tell us how you're building peace where you're at.
6 September 2017 — I am writing this letter to inform you of the recent adverse reactions of offenders to a new batch of a K2-styled substance. About a month ago a new batch of "2uece", "K2" or "tune" arrived on the unit. I was in the prison chapel and overheard a conversation that 9 people that day had been taken away in an ambulance. A few days later I saw 2 people fall out at work in the kitchen after smoking it. The user will experience temporary paralysis, unable to move or even speak. Users will watch their "friends" pass out, then laugh at their friends and continue smoking the same K2. Another prisoner bragged to me of his smoking prowess. He said, "I already had 3 people who smoked this shit with me get stuck. They think they can smoke like me." Later that day after having that conversation, that offender collapsed, unconscious and was rushed to medical. He may have died for
all I know.
Then the next day as I was leaving the shower area, they shut down the hallway for an emergency and they were carrying 2 paralyzed prisoners to sickbay (medical). I personally have seen more than 20 people carried away in stretchers this past month. I would estimate well over a hundred people have been transported to the hospital due to this new K2. I further estimate 1/2 the entire unit are users. About 80% of the people I work with smoke. Unlike other products such as ice cream, that might get contaminated with listeria and recalled, with this so-called "2uece" there is no recall. People will continue to sell it and smoke it, and there will be more adverse reactions. Shame on the local media for not reporting this! Shame on TDCJ for not locking down the prison, instead being more concerned with the Estelle Unit textile plant profits!
MIM(Prisons) responds: In our survey of ULK readers about drugs in prison, K2 (Deuce, 2euce, Spice, or synthetic marijuana) stood out as the most popular drug. While in the chart below, other drugs aren't too far behind in number of mentions, K2
was often highlighted as the #1 choice, with one Texas prisoner stating that everything else there is now irrelevant. Suboxone was the other one that really stood out, because it was less familiar and being reported a lot. Suboxone is actually used to treat drug addiction to opioids, but has more recently proven to be addictive itself even though it does not have the same effects on your body that opioids do.
The states of California, Nevada, Colorado and Georgia differed from the rest of the states in not really mentioning K2 or Suboxone. Instead in those states the combination of crystal meth (ice, sk8), heroin and alcohol were popular.
Many of these drugs are a serious health risk, and we address opioids in a separate article. However, K2 seems to deserve special attention right now due to the prevalence and risk. The risk is partially due to the variability in what you are getting when you purchase "K2", as the comrade alludes to above. While it is referred to as "synthetic weed" because of the receptors in the brain that it acts on, it is very different from weed with very different effects. In the prisons where it was reported as easiest to get, our respondents reported death from drugs at their prison 50% of the time. In contrast, the prisons where K2 was not listed among drugs easiest to get death was only reported 19% of the time. This difference was statistically significant. While this correlation does not establish a definitive link with K2 as the cause of excess deaths, anecdotal responses like the reports above and below seem to indicate that is the case. In the last two years, news stories about group overdoses from bad batches of spice have become frequent. Our correspondents talk about people being "stuck" when they are on K2. This drug can be completely disabling and can lead directly to death.
The K2 epidemic is not limited to Estelle Unit, but is across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) system, where our respondents consistently listed it as the most common drug. As the map above shows, the problem extends to many other states.
A comrade in Larry Gist Unit in Texas reported on 14 September 2017:
"I want to file a lawsuit against the Sr. Warden and American Correctional Association (ACA) who pass the Unit Larry Gist inspection because the speaker communication do not work and about 7 to 10 prisoners died smoking K2 from heart attack and other sickness. Speaker communication is very important and maybe if the speaker communication had been working 1, 2 or 3 of the prisoners that died could have been
A comrade at Telford Unit in Texas reported on 23 August 2017:
"My brothers in here have fallen victim to K2, which is highly addictive. They don't even care about the struggle. The only thing on their minds is getting high and that sas. I mean this K2 shit is like crack but worse. You have guys selling all their commissary, radios, fans, etc. just to get high. And all these pigs do is sit back and watch; this shit is crazy. But for the few of us who are K2-free I'm trying to get together a group to help me with the struggle."
We had a number of surveys filled out in Texas, all of which put the majority, if not all of the blame for the drugs entering the TDCJ on staff. Prisoners are a vulnerable population due to the degree of control that the state has over their lives. The injustice system leads to a disproportionate number of people in prison with substance abuse histories. It is completely irresponsible and tragic that people are then put in conditions where there is an epidemic of dangerous, unregulated drugs when they enter prison.
Under a socialist society, where we have a system of dictatorship of the proletariat, with those in power acting in the interests of the formerly oppressed peoples, individuals responsible for mass deaths through negligence or intentional actions will be brought to justice. Prison administrators who help bring in drugs known to kill people need to face the judgment of the people. These deaths are easily prevented.
In the meantime, we commend the comrades at Telford Unit who are starting to organize support for people to stay out of this epidemic that is affecting so many Texas prisoners. It is only by building independent institutions of the oppressed, which serve the people, that we can overcome this plague.
I graduated college and was quite active in community prior to 2014. Well, one word: PTSD. I exited fedz with quite a serious case of it, which I sought counseling for. After a year the fedz canceled funding so I was left to fend for self. Entering campus with massive crowds saw one experience anxiety attacks. Two successive altercations with tribal members where one reacted as if back on the yard and resulted in other's physical harm, and my dormant insomnia/stress returning. Due to my aiding state in suppressing documented evidence of my PTSD ongoing crisis, it never got introduced at trial. Causing one to appear to have beat people up for no reason. And the introduction of party validation into a weak case served its desired purpose: incite fear.
Presently doing 45 years as I was given more time than a murderer. Prayerfully the appeals gain one some justice. However I hold no faith in a system designed to entomb the poor and silence the militant. My remaining days of life shall be devoted to the destruction of my/our oppressors. By any means necessary!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This story is all too common: prisons cause physical and mental health problems, which in turn make it difficult for people to survive on the streets. And so many people end up getting locked back up.
It's hard enough to stay on the streets finding housing and a job. It's even harder if you want to continue with your revolutionary activism. This doesn’t mean you should give up, but it does mean you'll need support. We at MIM(Prisons) are working to improve our Re-lease on Life program so that we can provide some of that support. Right now that's limited to political support. We can help you build the structures necessary to stay active on the streets. But you'll have to do your part by communicating with us regularly and working to build the necessary self-discipline. If you’re reading this newsletter and you haven't engaged with us around your release plans, get in touch now!
Just a short letter to let you know that I received your Texas Pack, which I found to have lots of needed information in it. The issue of the July/August Under Lock & Key was DENIED because of something on page 11 of the publication. I appealed the denial and lost, but I mailed it home for future reading.
I am a victim of harassment and retaliation, which stems from my constant filing of complaints and grievances, condemning the unprofessional actions of unit officials and officers. I've had to endure some pretty rough times because of my never-ending flow of complaints. Unit officials have conspired to file false disciplinary infractions against me in hopes of silencing me or discrediting me. During my last stint of incarceration (1997-2003) unit officials told me that if I didn't stop filing complaints, that they were going to make my time hard. They filed an infraction of "assault on an officer," which had me thrown in solitary and stripped of my trustee status and good time. When I continued to file grievances against the unjust actions they had taken against me, I was once again charged with "assault on an officer" (my foot accidentally bumped an officer's foot). They were trying to prove that I couldn't beat them. Well, I eventually got one officer fired for harassment and retaliation, and a Lieutenant was allowed to resign and return in six months. When he returned, he was sent to another unit, (where I had also been sent to) and had to work as a regular CO for six months before he could apply for his rank back.
Upon seeing me, he called me a "bitch," which I immediately wrote up. This time, there happened to be a Major that did not put up with officer harassment and retaliation, and he immediately got both of us in his office and made the officer apologize to me and promise to leave me alone. I was falsely charged with several disciplinary infractions after I filed a grievance against an officer for calling me a "black son of a bitch," back in January of this year. When I refused to drop my complaint, I received a major disciplinary for being "out of place" (not attending a law library session, which is voluntary).
A couple of months later, I received another major case for "failure to obey an order" (another trumped up charge) and after being found guilty of it, I was stripped of my general population status and re-assigned to G-4 (medium custody). The whole purpose of charging me with the major infractions were to 1) get me transferred from the unit and 2) discredit me so that my complaint against the officer for use of slurs/hostile epithets could be viewed as a lie against that officer. I was shipped off of the unit and all attempts to have something done to the officer who called me a black son of a bitch were ditched.
After arriving here on this unit to be locked away for 6 months on medium custody, one of the ladies who was part of my Unit Classification Committee (UCC), disagreed that I should be classified as medium custody, because the charges were weak. Now I am hoping that the two major infractions that I received earlier this year have no bearing on whether I make parole. There are NOT a lot of guys who are willing to stand up for their rights like me. I recently wrote a letter to Senator John Whitmire, informing him of the issues we are plagued with over here at this century-old unit. Just last week, we had not one, not two, but several pipes burst, leaving us without clean water to drink. Half of the building had NO WATER to flush their toilets, and there were restrictions on showering.
I'm continuing in my fight to bring attention to all of the ruthless officers that continue to oppress us behind these walls. Please let me know what I can do to help your cause. I am indigent, but I'm able to write and get things out.
I'm sure you all know that as of September 2017, solitary confinement in TDCJ was abolished. The inmates at the Pack Unit in Navasoto, Texas found help with the heat during the summer by way of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals when they affirmed class certification. Judge Keith Ellison ordered TDCJ to put air conditioning in the Pack Unit, which was found to be a "hot box" to the inmates housed there. Instead of putting air conditioning in housing areas, TDCJ shipped the inmates to cooler quarters in other facilities. The reaffirmed class certification paves the way for inmates' lawyers to try and win a permanent injunction.
Also, inmates throughout TDCJ have won the right to wear 4-inch beards, and Muslim offenders are supposed to be able to wear their kufis all over the unit, yet state officials are trying to stonewall us (yes, I am Muslim) from doing it. Now, I've heard that on some of the more hardened units, officials would rather allow the wearing of kufis rather than risk any type of rebellion. The unit I'm on is NOT one of them, yet I'm working to get some type of wording on WHY we aren't being allowed to wear them here. The case citing is Ali vs Stephens, 822 F.3d 776 (5th Cir. 2016) U.S. App LEXIS 7964. Until next time, stay strong.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There are a number of seasoned comrades in Texas fighting and winning, in spite of harassment and retaliation from TDCJ staff and admin. We encourage others to look to this comrade's work for an example of eir bravery, dedication, and successes!
The Texas Pack that MIM(Prisons) distributes is a good jumping off point for people who need basic information on filing grievances and fighting against some of the most common things prison staff do to take advantage of us. Most of the information in the Texas Pack ought to be in the law library by any reasonable standard, and even TDCJ's own policies and procedures. Since the TDCJ isn't following its own rules, and not informing prisoners of what those rules are and the process to have them enforced, we have compiled this information. Send a $2.50 donation to our SF address, or a contribution to ULK, to get the Texas Pack.
Another aspect of this author's experience that we want to draw attention to is how eir work impacts the quality of life of other prisoners on eir unit. Getting a guard kicked off the unit, suspended, or being told to tone down eir harassment, serves not only this author but also the prisoners around em. Same goes for the impact of lawsuits (for better or worse). So if you're reading this and a guard isn't harassing you, know that it's probably because of all the people who have fought on your behalf ahead of you. Maybe now it's time to start contributing to help others!
In response to "Drugs a Barrier to Organizing in Many Prisons," first, it's not many prisons, it's all! When drugs are present, unity is not. Drugs break the whole down into a degenerate form of individualism. Under the captivity of drugs and/or alcohol, these people are no different than the imperialist sheep that keep us oppressed.
It branches out to affect families of these people. Prison is definitely an overwhelmingly negative environment, but should be a place for personal reflection and growth. I take every opportunity to absorb knowledge, bring those who are in my company up with me. It makes absolutely no sense to become and remain stagnant in here. It pretty much guarantees failure once they return to freedom.
Drugs in prison leads to other criminal acts, such as extortion, violence, etc. It goes nowhere! Lenin vowed that a socialist state would never produce or sell alcohol. Basically prohibition. Alcohol nor drugs were tolerated. Lenin knew the drastic effects they had on people, and the inevitable damage it causes to the unity of the people. Until people realize the extreme hindrance drugs are, unity will be out of reach. All myself and other comrades can do is do our best to educate others, to shed light on truths.
In all situations, we should remember Lenin's warnings:
"Illusions and self-deceptions are terrible, the fear of truth is pernicious. The party and the people need the whole truth, in
big things and small. Only the truth instills in people an acute sense of civic duty. Lies and half-truths produce a warped mentality, deform the personality, and prevent one from making realistic conclusions and evaluations, without which an active party policy is inconceivable."
People constantly fall prey to ideological lies. They lack a sense of discipline and self-awareness. This exists not only in prisons, but in society. Society is overwhelmingly a slave-morality, following the
masses — doing what they believe will satisfy norms, set forth by imperialists. Comrades probably feel like the "minority," but must always keep in mind that this "minority" is strong, rooted in truth and unity.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Lenin did oppose alcohol in the Soviet Union, both as a question of capitalist enterprise that was bad for the peasants and also as a health issue. On the question of monopolies he wrote:
"This is quite apart from the enormous amount of money the peasant communes have lost as a result of the liquor monopoly. Hitherto they obtained a revenue from liquor shops. The Treasury has deprived them of this source of revenue without a kopek compensation!"(1)
In studying the history of alcohol in the Soviet Union, we came across some writings by Anna Louise Strong from 1925. As she explained:
"The war with drink, like everything else in Russia at present, is not a thing by itself, but is
tied up with the ideas of the Revolution. The bootlegger is denounced, not merely as a lawbreaker, but as a man who profits in the misery of others. The advocates of strong drink, when they venture to express themselves, are hotly denounced, not merely as mistaken, but as 'counter-revolutionists, poisoners of Russia!'"(2)
In 1925 the Soviet Union finally had a good harvest of grain after years of war and famine. This presented an opportunity for serious alcohol production. And one official argued that the government should encourage it and make money off the taxes. Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Part of the Soviet Union, denounced this position:
"Now after our long strain of war and famine, when national health is at a low ebb, legalised alcohol would be infinitely more dangerous than it was before," ... "He proposes to get rid of the bankruptcy in our budget. But he would drive that bankruptcy into the bodies and minds and souls of our people. The party cannot overlook such suggestions even in the conversational stage. We understand what you have in view. We have made many concessions because of our poverty, but such a concession as the surrender of our national soberness you will not get. This shall not pass."(2)
As Strong concludes about the Soviet Union in 1925:
"Drink is attacked as a problem of public health and national morale, rather than a question of individual morals. Repressive measures are occasionally quite severe and public demand is growing to make them even more stringent. But there is also universal agreement, in every article one reads and every official one talks to, that the final solution can come only by substituting an interesting cultural life for the lower pleasures of drink.
"As for state manufacture of vodka, about which rumours from time to time arise, the words of Lenin himself laid down the government's attitude. When the new economic policy was under discussion and the question was raised in the conference of the Communist party how far they were prepared to go in making concessions to the peasants, Lenin outlined the policy as follows:
'Whatever the peasant wants in the way of material things we will give him, as long as they do not imperil the health or morals of the nation. If he asks for paint and powder and patent leather shoes, our state industries will labour to produce these things to satisfy his demand, because this is an advance in his standard of living and 'civilisation,' though falsely conceived by him.
'But if he asks for ikons or booze—these things we will not make for him. For that is definitely retreat; that is definitely degeneration that leads him backward. Concessions of this sort we will not make; we shall rather sacrifice any temporary advantage that might be gained from such concessions.'"